Travel blog

Basic German Phrases Travelers Should Know

Posted by Kelsi Auld on Jul 12, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Basic German Phrases For Travel

Are you planning a trip to Germany?

We guarantee you will always remember your time here. Germany is an incredible country with plenty to see and do. Visit picturesque Christmas markets and the iconic Oktoberfest, or explore historic churches, monuments and more.

But before you head out, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a few basic German phrases for travel. Knowing some common German phrases can enrich your overall experience because you can communicate with the locals.

About the German language

Lucky for you, the English language has Germanic roots, which can make learning some basic German sayings a bit easier.

Sentence Structure

For instance, the basic sentence structure for English and German is quite similar. Both languages follow a “subject-verb-object” format.

For example:
English – I visit Germany
German – Ich beuche Deutschland

However, one of the ways English and German are different is in how questions are organized.

For example:
In English we would ask, “Could you give me the ticket?
In German, the arrangement would be, "Could you to me the ticket give?"

Special characters

Another difference is that German has special characters not found in the English alphabet. First are umlauts: ä, ö and ü. These additional letters in the German alphabet have two dots on top and because there is no equivalent sound in English, they can a little tricky for non-native speakers.

The second special character is the eszett, which is when “ss” or “sz” occurs. You will likely see this while looking at maps because “Straße” (the German word for “street”) has that double-s sound. Straße is pronounced “strass-uh”.

Common German Phrases

Frankfurt, Germany

Before you depart on your vacation, consider downloading a language translator app to your Smartphone and familiarize yourself with these basic German words and phrases.


  • Thank you – Danke (dan-kuh”)
  • You’re welcome – Bitteschön (“bit-tuh-shun“)
  • Please, excuse me, or pardon – Bitte (“bit-tuh”)
  • Yes – Ja (“jah”)
  • No – Nein (“nine”)
  • Hello – Hallo (“hallo”)
  • Goodbye – Auf Wiedersehen (“Owf Veeder-sane”)
  • German – Deutsch (“doych”)


  • How are you? – Wie gehts (“Wee gates”)
  • Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch? (“Spreken zee English?”)
  • I don’t speak German – Ich spreche kein Deutsch (“Ish sprekeh kine Doych”)
  • Repeat, please – Bitte wiederholen (“Bit-tuh wee-der-holen”)
  • I’m sorry – Es tut mir Leid (“Es tut meer lide”)
  • I don’t understand – Ich verstehen nicht (“Ish versh-tee nikd”)
  • What is your name? – Wie heißen Sie? (“Wee hai-sen zee? “)

Basic German Phrases for Travel

It’s incredibly helpful to know some basic German sayings that are travel-specific since you will be in situations and scenarios where they will be relevant.

  • Where is… – Wo ist …
    • …the train station? – …der Bahnhof?
    • …the bus station? – …die Bushaltestelle?
    • …the bathroom/toilet? – …die Toilette?
  • How much does this cost? – Wie viel kostet das?
  • I would like the bill, please – Ich möchte bitte die Rechnung
  • I have a reservation – Ich habe eine Reservierung
  • I would like to buy this – Ich möchte das kaufen
  • I’m lost – Ich bin verloren

German Expressions and Slang

As you explore the country’s amazing cities and sites, you may want to try some common expressions to feel more like a local.

  • Prost! / Zum Wohl! – Cheers!
  • Mon – Good morning or hello
  • Lecker – This is tasty!
  • Mensch! – Oh man!
  • Jein – Yes and no
  • Abhauen – Go away or get lost

Communication tips

It's best to keep things simple when trying to speak with locals in their native language. Trying to be perfect can often times complicate things. Instead, try to communicate your main message in a few words (“Bitte, Ich bin verloren. Bushaltestelle?” / “Pardon me, I’m lost. Bus station?”). The person will likely understand what you are asking for or saying. They may also appreciate the fact that you are making a sincere effort to speak to them in their language rather than assuming they speak English.

Practice Common German Phrases with YMT

We offer exceptional land tours, cruise tours and river cruises in Germany. And while you're there, take your vacation a step further by renting a boat to explore Berlin's fascinating waterways. You can use your new language skills to hausboot mieten Berlin.

To join any of our exciting German getaways or to learn more about our services, contact your travel consultant or call YMT Vacations at 1-888-756-9072.

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Topics: Europe, River Cruises